Cal­i­for­nian-style com­fort and en­joy­ment

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - LAU­REN MUR­PHY


The Wa­ter­fall

ATO Records

Why aren’t My Morn­ing Jacket a big­ger band? Wait, that’s ac­tu­ally an easy ques­tion to an­swer. De­spite Jim James and Co’s nu­mer­ous Grammy nom­i­na­tions, truth­fully it is over-am­bi­tion that has stymied the Ken­tucky band’s progress over the course of their 17-year ca­reer. Such al­bums as 2003’s It Still Moves and 2005’s Z prised open the door to a new au­di­ence, but their ten­dency to em­bel­lish has meant that crit­i­cal ac­claim has never re­ally trans­lated into sales or a bona fide cross­over to the main­stream.

By all ac­counts, this has never both­ered the quin­tet – par­tic­u­larly James, who con­tin­ues to in­dulge his man­i­fold solo and side-pro- jects to this day. His sev­enth al­bum with My Morn­ing Jacket is as sprawl­ing a miscellany as what has come be­fore, but this time it’s in­flected with prom­i­nent dashes of 1970s Cal­i­for­nian rock.

It’s a sound that’s been au­di­ble through­out much of the band’s pre­vi­ous ma­te­rial, but this time it can be at­trib­uted to the fact that The Wa­ter­fall was mostly recorded at the beau­ti­ful Stin­son Beach in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Songs like the slinky Only Mem­o­ries Re­main and In Its In­fancy (The Wa­ter­fall) are par­tic­u­larly evoca­tive of bands such as CSNY, Cree­dence and even The Ea­gles, the lat­ter punc­tu­ated by dashes of psychedelia. The acous­tic gui­tar of Get the Point is a foil for songs like the squally, spacey, overblown Trop­ics (Erase Traces) while the cel­e­bra­tory feel of colour­ful opener Be­lieve – un­der­lined by James’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally philo­soph­i­cal lyrics – is so ridicu­lous, you can’t help but smile. The Wa­ter­fall won’t be the al­bum to make My Morn­ing Jacket a house­hold name, yet just like a care­fully stitched patch­work quilt of styles, there is both com­fort and huge en­joy­ment to be drawn from this al­bum. My­morn­ing­

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